This gift guide is a little different to the usual guides you’ll find in magazines or online at this time of year. You won’t see anything suggested as being specifically good for a girl or a boy, and there’s no age guidelines. We’re all individuals with different interests and abilities, so this guide for people with special needs recognises that, and actually celebrates it. We want gift buying to be a happy occasion, not one where parents or caregivers are concerned with age appropriateness. The person receiving the gift needs to enjoy it and be able to use it. So this holiday season I’ve put together the ultimate gift guide for people with special needs. It has all our favourites from our previous gift guides and has the new items which have caught my eye this year.
Welcome if you’re new to our website, and be assured this gift guide has been put together by a parent who understands how hard it can be to find a gift for someone with special needs. BJ (pictured below) is our son who lives with cerebral palsy and he LOVES presents. So every year I strive to find gifts which he can use, will make him happy and be motivating in helping him reach his therapy goals.
ART & CRAFT
It was always a struggle to get BJ involved in art and craft but with persistence we did find some activities he liked over the years. Below you’ll find a list of art and craft activities which stood out as perhaps being good for someone with special needs.
I love the feel of this Instant Snow. Just add water to the dry contents of the packet and you’ll have a fluffy bowl of snow for creative play. A packet of the snow and some characters and vehicles would be great for tablet-top or wheelchair tray play. I found the Instant Christmas Snow at Kiki K in two sizes. Our overseas friends can find similar here – Be Amazing Insta-Snow Jar, Makes 2 Gallons.
Not every gift needs to be packaged by a store. Putting together a gift tailored to a person’s interests can be a great winner. One year we bought a tray, a packet of kinetic sand and various things for making a scene. In the pack above we popped in some small scoops for digging the sand, tiny craft buckets for sandcastle making, dinosaurs, an acrylic mirror for a drinking hole, trees and a magnifier. The same could be done with play doh.
Kinetic sand can be found at Kmart, Target and Big W. Our overseas friends can see it online here – Kinetic Sand – Beach Sand.
Chalk can often be difficult to work with as it breaks so easily. That’s why I love this chalk paint which can be used with a paint brush. Depending on the level of ability of the user you can choose the size or width of paint brush. Chalk paint washes away like regular chalk. We found this in Bunnings Hardware Store. Our overseas friends can see similar here – RoseArt Washable Sidewalk Chalk Paint (2 Count), Neon Green/Yellow.
These crayons are still my favourite. There are cheaper versions out on the market but I don’t think they write as easily as the Playon Crayon pictured below.
The round knob-like top makes these crayons easier to hold than regular crayons. I’ve seen these at Five Senses and Toys and Tales stores. Our overseas friends can find them online here – Easy To Hold Toddler Crayons, Stackable and Non-Toxic, Primary Color Set.
If the person you are purchasing the crayons for can’t hold a crayon or can’t sustain a grasp you could make the simple neoprene holder pictured above.
The only success we ever had with BJ drawing was with these crayons and a little hand grip made by our occupational therapist. The little hand strap is made of Neoprene material (wet suit material), has a small slit to slip the crayon into and velcro to fasten. Although a child may not be able to maintain consistent grasp the crayon stays put allowing them to grasp again when ready.
Here’s a template with measurements so you can make your own.
As BJ’s got older it’s become harder and harder to find unique gifts for him so we’ve turned to many items we can personalise. Here are a few of his gifts, plus some I’ve found available in store this year.
BJ received a personalised soccer jersey from his cousins for his 21st birthday. It came with his name and the number 21 on it and he loves it. I’m sure this is available in other types of jerseys.
You can find out more about ordering one like BJ’s here
Each year Myer’s Giftorium offers a range of prints which can be personalised with a person’s name. From superheroes to characters like Paddington and Snoopy you can have your chosen print personalised.
It’s no secret BJ loves his pictures. We’ve pretty much exhausted hanging space in his room so for his birthday AJ made him a photo book. It’s been a hit. We went for a smaller size so the pages were less likely to rip with his enthusiasm.
BJ loves sitting with someone looking at the variety of friends, families and experiences he’s had. I think we’ll be trying another one this Christmas.
We ordered ours from Snapfish when they had a promotion and paid under $20 for it. Grandad likes the ones he received for his birthday and Father’s Day too.
BJ’s walls are adorned with various canvas prints. He particularly likes one of he and Hubby in a dodgem car and a family print of us all in New York. Thinking ahead last year at his 21st birthday party we took a group shot and that canvas has had to stay in the family room as it’s way too exciting for BJ to have in his room. He loves showing it to everyone who comes to visit and it’s turned into a great conversation piece.
We had our canvas prints made at a local photo store but places like Snapfish also do them for a reasonable price. Ordering can be done online and delivered to the door. Order early to avoid disappointment and last minute additional costs for expedited shipping.
I met John (pictured right) a few years ago when I was doing a social media workshop. He and his partner write personalised songs for people. After I shared it in a previous gift guide, John sent me an email to say how much they’d enjoyed writing songs for some of our readers and sent me an example (with the permission of the person who had purchased the song). You can read more about their service and hear the song by clicking here.
Yes, we could just go to the store and buy a jar of vegemite, a jar of Nutella or a packet of Tim Tams for someone but putting their name on it makes it that bit more special if giving it as a gift.
Do you know someone who’s passionate about their Vegemite? Well, this year Kmart Australia are personalising jars of Vegemite in store. See the huge blow up version above.
Personalising Nutella jars has been really popular in previous years and Kmart’s doing it again this year. Pop into Kmart to get your name spread on a jar!
I think there will be long queues for the personalised Tim Tam boxes at Myer’s Giftorium this year. It’s $9.95 for a large box of Tim Tams personalised in store at Myer.
PERSONALISED ALLENS LOLLIES
Now this is my idea of a dream! I’d definitely be like a kid in a candy store given I grew up going to a corner store when on holidays and saying, “I’ll have one of those, two of those and 10 of that one!”
Visit the pop-up corner store and pick and mix your favourites, from spearmint leaves to green frogs, to make your own bespoke lolly jars. You can design your label for yourself or for a friend.
This year the store will be available online, too. If you want to get a jar delivered, order by December 12 and it will arrive before Christmas. YUM!!!
If you’ve got a Cadbury chocolate lover in your family the chocolate maker has brought out a variety of hampers just in time for Christmas.
Check out the Cadbury Hamper page to see the options.
ACTIVITIES TO GET HANDS WORKING
A gift should definitely be fun but when you have someone with special needs it never does any harm to add a few therapy goals into the game.
POP UP TOY
I remember this pop-up toy fondly from many sessions with our occupational therapist when BJ was younger. There are springs under the little wooden animal pegs. Isolating a finger is the aim and when you push down on the pop-up toy it springs out of the container. Lots of giggles and fun can be had with this one when successful. Specialty toy stores stock these and our overseas readers can buy it online here – Pop Up Animal.
Finding an activity which appeals is half the battle won when trying to encourage a bit of therapy and taking turns with a punching bag could be a great motivator.
Get arms moving with the added motivation of an electronic counter which records strikes. It has an adjustable speed for different skill levels and lights up when there’s a successful strike. I found this at Target for $49.
I thought this might be a good activity for building up hand and arm strength by pulling Stretch Armstrong in every direction. Stretch Armstrong is available in Myer and Kmart stores. Our overseas friends can see this weird looking dude here – Stretch Armstrong Action Figure.
A smaller and cheaper version of Stretch Armstrong is these Octopus which are $19 at Big W. Our friends overseas can see similar here – Stretch Armstrong Mini Stretch Octopus Green.
Just about every therapist we’ve ever visited has used bubbles as a fun motivational tool. BJ could never blow bubbles himself so we had various bubble wands over the year trying to give him the independence of making bubbles.
These bubble animals have a handle and trigger action which may make it easier for some people to use. A good stocking filler perhaps at $10. I’ve seen these in both Kmart and Big W.
Many dolls are small and fiddly to dress. This year I was keeping an eye out for one to include in the gift guide which may be a bit easier. I found Our Generation dolls in Kmart and David Jones but a friend of mine tells me the Journey Girls are the ‘in’ thing.
These larger dolls also come with a great range of accessories including a wheelchair and crutches. A range of ethnicities are represented and it’s a nice change to see a doll with glasses! It’s good for kids to have toys they can identify with and getting new glasses or a wheelchair could be assisted with a little present like this.
Journey Dolls are available at Toys R Us. They are currently on sale in the Toys R Us catalogue online here (8 Nov 2017). Our overseas friends can see a range of Journey Dolls here – Journey Girls 18 inch Doll – Kyla (CIAO!) and the wheelchair accessory can be seen here – Journey Girls Wheelchair Playset – Blue
When we used to do therapy with BJ he was reluctant to do, we always tried to make it a game and more purposeful. Walking in a walking frame just for the sake of it, especially when it’s hard work, may not be motivation enough. Have an indoor free-standing basketball hoop to walk towards, or a post box to post some letters in. Make it fun and rewarding. Not only will you get some walking in but you’ll also get hands working and balance happening while they let go with one hand.
TOY STORY PULL STRING TALKING TOYS
In the height of BJ’s passion for Toy Story he received a pull string Woody character. It has a ring pull string making it easy to use. He was thrilled when he pulled the string and had the reward of Woody talking. A good motivator if you’re trying to encourage hand function skills. We also have a Jessie with the same pull string activation. I’ve seen these in Target & Big W this year. Our overseas friends can look at them here – Toy Story Pull String Woody 16″ Talking Figure – Disney Exclusive
Pull string toys have been fantastic for BJ. He has had a variety of them over the years. This UFO toy is fantastic to take on picnics. BJ has no problem pulling the string and it is an impressive flyer. It is a good ice breaker with other kids too. I purchased this at Toys and Tales (a specialty toy store) but I have found similar online – Tosy AFO – Alien’s Flying Object – Flash Flyer Magic Disc, Flies Back Like a Boomerang, Lights Up, Countless Play Styles, Color may Vary (Red, Blue, Green, Orange)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include some technology based gifts this year. AJ helped me with the gift guide and a few of her picks were technology based.
One of AJ’s picks was this PowerUp Bluetooth Controlled Paper Aeroplane for iOS and Android and judging by Hubby’s reaction, it may be a hit with all ages. It’s an expensive paper aeroplane at nearly $90. It has a 55 metre range, flies for up to 10 mins on one charge and has a crash-resistant carbon fibre design. You can read more online here. Our overseas friends can find it here – POWERUP 3.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane.
AJ had to fight hard for me to include the tattoos. It was an immediate no until she talked it up and explained how it works. So these aren’t your usual party temporary tattoos because they move!! You apply them to the skin with a damp cloth as normal. You download a free app to your smartphone, then hover it over the tattoos to see them come to life. The tattoos become three-dimensional with sound and movement. After AJ explained it, I had to admit it was pretty cool. You can read more about them here. Our overseas friends can find something similar here – HoloTats Wild Kingdom – Holographic Augmented Reality Temporary Tattoos For Kids Parties, Goodie Bags and Fun Games (Set of 6)
SPHERO STAR WARS
There’s a variety of Sphero choices. I saw them in the shops and wondered if they were worth the money (around $150-$200) and then a friend told me her children had played with them and she thought they were awesome. So it’s made the list. Once again this is controlled by your smart device but you can also watch it work on its own. Artoo above, has front and read LED lights which are fully functional, an interegrated speak allowing it to beep and boop at you (official terminology here people!). I’ve seen this in store at Myer and you can also read more about the variety of Spheros on the Australian Geographic site here. Our overseas friends can read more about the Sphero here – R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid by Sphero.
BJ’s always had remote control vehicles and characters but it’s only been in recent years he’s been able to use them himself. This very much depends on the controller and I usually look for something with levers on the control pad.
We bought this Superman remote control for BJs birthday earlier this year, I was disappointed when we took it out of the packet and it only had raised buttons not a lever control. BJ was so thrilled to be able to manage the remote control himself which made it a real hit. Superman was on clearance at Target for $19 and most stores seem to have sold-out now. Still worth a look though. In the meantime I’ve found a couple of similar remote control figures. I like the size of these remote control figures as they are easy to see from a wheelchair.
Radio control Darth Vader was in Big W. He’s $68 but does make sounds. Our US friends can find similar remote control Star Wars products including Remote Control Inflatable BB-8
Big W has inflatable remote control Teletubbies. They have a different remote control to Superman and Darth Vader so I’m unsure if it’s as easy to use. They are available online for our overseas readers to purchase but significantly more expensive DHX Teletubbies R/C Inflatable Teletubbies Po Remote Controlled Doll
After we’d built our house we spent lots of weekends in the garden. BJ really enjoyed working alongside us even if he needed assistance with the planting or digging process. It’s hard to work down low in a wheelchair so we’re sharing some table-top ways of encouraging the green thumb in your family.
PalPlay G-Blox look ideal to set up in an elevated position or on a table-top giving a wheelchair user easy access. First you build the blocks then just add soil and plants. I found these at Bunnings Hardware Store. I haven’t been able to find anything similar overseas.
The My Fairy Garden range seems very ‘in’ this year and I thought it would be a good table-top or wheelchair tray friendly activity. The sets come in a variety of styles from the basic flower pot below to the more complex unicorn garden above. I’ve seen these at Target, Big W and Myer so far. Prices vary so shop around. I’m betting they will be a reduced catalogue item in coming weeks. Our overseas friends can find them here – My Fairy Garden – Unicorn Meadow
Our overseas friends can find the Flowerpots here – My Fairy Garden Fairy Flower Pot (Multi-Colour) by My Fairy Garden
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE PLANTER BOXES
A wheelchair accessible planter box makes a great vegetable patch and may appeal to a garden lover. The pictured boxes can be found at Bunnings Hardware stores. Similar elevated planter boxes can be found here – iKayaa Raised Elevated Garden Bed Kits Vegetable Herb Gardening Planter Box 39″L
BJ never had much luck with regular building blocks. He didn’t have enough control to keep items stacked but he loved anything magnetic. It provided an easy way to connect and build items.
These magnetic blocks allow for imaginative construction and seem really popular at the moment. I’ve seen a variety of brands available with the cheapest at Kmart for $20 to the more expensive sets available at Five Senses and Toys and Tales stores. Our overseas friends can purchase them here – Popular Playthings MagSnaps Set (48 pieces)
We still have a set similar to the one pictured above. They are so good I haven’t been able to let them go and they lived through BJ’s school of hard knocks and still look as good as new. I found these in Toys and Tales and Five Senses toy stores for around the $80 mark. Our overseas friends can purchase it for a significantly cheaper price here – SmartMax Start
BJ would have loved this magnetic car set when he was younger. It would have been so good for him to have the pleasure of building and then playing with this track and cars. I found this at Toys and Tales and Five Senses Educational stores for around $120. Once again our overseas friends can purchase it at a much cheaper rate here – SmartMax Basic Stunt
This magnetic building set is a little more difficult than some of the others I’ve listed as it requires matching and building skills. Once again, the magnets will help with the building success for those who find regular building blocks difficult. I found these at Toys and Tales for $55. Our overseas friends can buy it online here – Geomag Safari Park
I love these Geomag magnetic sets. Easy click pieces hopefully will assist with building success.They come in varying styles and set sizes. I found the pictured sets at Toys and Tales for between $25 and $35. Our overseas friends can purchase them cheaper online here – Geomag Team Nitro Wheels (25 Piece), Light Blue/Black, One Size
Playmobil has a new larger pieced range available now. I found these in Toys and Tales with sets varying in price according to size and detail. Sets pictured above averaged $34. Our overseas friends can find a range available to buy online here – PLAYMOBIL 1.2.3 Airport Shuttle Bus
BJ has always loved a variety of ball games. We’ve had a variety over the years from large indoor ball pits, to basketball hoops, soccer balls and more. It’s been interesting to see his skills develop over time and what seemed impossible when he was younger he can manage now. He kicks a ball with great precision and gusto and only in the last year has learnt how to do a two handed ball throw. It’s so wonderful to see his joy at his accomplishments.
Big W has some character themed inflatable ball pits. We always found this was a great way to get interaction with other kids as it brings everyone into the one place for play. Our overseas friends can purchase online here – Cars 3 Playland with 20 Balls Playset
Grip ball makes catching a little easier with a Velcro pad for catching the ball and a Velcro strap to attach to the hand. At only $5 in stores like Big W, Kmart and Target it’s a god stocking filler.
Targeting putting balls into this whale is great for hand function and it says it has a ball popping action. Be warned though, it has sounds and I was a tad embarrassed after testing it out and hearing it several aisles over as I escaped. I found this in Kmart for $25. Although I can’t find the whale online for our overseas friends I have found the same brand has another animal with the same concept which you can check out here – Bright Starts Having A Ball Drop & Giggle Cow
These cute balls make sounds while they roll and wobble. They come in a variety of animals and look to be easy to hold. I found them in Kmart for $6. Our overseas friends can buy them online here – Bright Starts Baby Toy, Giggables
The foam bowling set on the left is an all time favourite with our family. It’s been to picnics, family get-togethers and parties. It tends to get everyone involved and the ball is a good size for a person to hold, or to roll off their legs. BJ loves this game. Both are available at Australian Geographic Stores or online in Australia here. Our overseas friends can find a similar foam bowling set at Pottery Barn Kids here or online here – 12- Piece Foam Bowling Set – 10 Pins & 2 Balls By Allures & Illusions
Bocce is like bowling. We’ve found it brings people together and encourages turn taking, colour recognition and of course the skill of throwing a ball. When BJ was younger we used a plumbing pipe cut in half to make it easier for him to play. See below.
One of BJ’s friends has this game and it is so easy to play with a large dice and playing pieces. Great for table-top play with friends. I found this in Big W for $20. Our overseas friends can buy it online here – Pressman Toys Giant Snakes & Ladders Game (4 Player)
A friend bought this for BJ as a joke gift (knowing my obsession with finding good accessible bathrooms and my occasional descent into toilet talk) but being an occupational therapist she made sure he could work it. This is a bit of fun and with the lever handle we found everyone could play. Be warned though, you may get wet! This is available in Target, Kmart and Big W. Our overseas friends can buy it online here – Hasbro Games Toilet Trouble
BJ wouldn’t be able to manage pushing down on these controls but I know there’s a range of abilities amongst our readers so I thought I’d share this retro game which I found in Myer and in Kmart. Our overseas friends can purchase it online here – Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots Game
For a person trying to improve their motor skills this may be a good challenge. It’s a hand-held maze but much larger and easier to hold than the usual ones. This would be too hard for BJ but I thought it may be suitable for others who are on a different level with motor skills. You can see a better picture of it out of the box here – Miniland Maze Balance Board I found this at Toys and Tales at $35. It’s cheaper online for our overseas friends.
I love this set of Giant Dominos I found in the Myer Giftorium. The large wooden dominos are much easier to hold than regular sized sets but remain relatively light. This would be a great table-top game. At Myer they are $29.99. Our overseas readers can find similar online here – Refinery Jumbo Wood Dominoes 28 Piece Game Set
Atari is back and the lever hand controls look good for someone with limited hand function. The console and pictured games are available at Myer’s Giftorium for $149.
BJ has a range of table-top games including Foosball and Air Hockey. Both are fun and encourage interaction. Australian Geographic have a range which can be purchased in store or online for $40. Our overseas friends can see similar here – Tabletop Foosball Game
TABLE TOP NOUGHTS & CROSSES
We found this giant game helps BJ play this well loved game. Being a big table set it also encourages interaction with adults and other kids. This is usually stocked in Kmart Australia for around the $10 mark. The only similar version I can find online for our overseas friends is 5 times this price so perhaps try your own variety stores.
MAGNETIC FISHING GAME
BJ used to have a Melissa & Doug fishing puzzle which he loved. This is a different take on this and encourages counting and obviously there’s a skill factor to lining up the magnets to catch the fish. I found this in Toys and Tales for $49.95. This does require more skill than the magnetic puzzles as the rod has a wind-up mechanism. Our overseas friends can find the game online here – Melissa & Doug Catch & Count Wooden Fishing Game With 2 Magnetic Rods
Bright Starts Go Gripper Cars are easy to grip with the holes to hook into. I found these at Kmart for $6. Our overseas friends can see similar here – O Ball 1-Piece Rattle & Roll Car, Assorted Colors.
If you like the Go Grippers cars you may also like the playset which is currently on sale at Big W for $49. Our overseas friends can check out a similar version here – O Ball 1-Piece Rattle & Roll Car, Assorted Colors.
This wooden school bus caught my eye because the people are large enough to make them easy to hold and the open top bus should help with putting them in and out of the bus. The door has holes for windows making them more manageable to open. I can’t find one online I like as much but this is the closest I can find – Melissa & Doug School Bus Wooden Play Set With 7 Play Figures.
These little pull back cars have an easy grasp knob-like top making it easier than regular cars. I found them at Kmart for $2 which could make them a great stocking filler.
It took years for BJ to be able to press buttons as small as the ones on this Hot Wheels car but he was delighted when he could and the car zoomed across the floor at great speed with lights flashing and sounds going. At $20 this is a great gift if you are trying to encourage isolating a pointer finger. Big W and Kmart usually stock these cars. Smaller versions are also available. Our overseas can buy similar cars here – Hot Wheels Extreme Action Light and Sound Sharkruiser.
It’s hard to tell in the packaging how easy the cable controller would be to use on Fireman Sam’s Jupiter fire engine but knowing Fireman’s Sam popularity I thought I’d add this in. Part of the controller is a lever but there are also buttons. It has light, sounds and “realistic water shooting function”. I found this on the very top shelf at Big W for $89.
How great would this gigantic keyboard be for stepping motivation? Play music while fitting in a bit of sneaky therapy. I found this in Toys and Tales educational toy store. Australian Geographic stores usually stock them close to Christmas for around $69 but their website says it is currently out of stock. For our overseas readers there are many versions available to check out online here – Click N’ Play Gigantic Keyboard Play Mat, 24 Keys Piano Mat, 8 Selectable Musical Instruments + Play -Record -Playback -Demo-mode.
LIGHT N SOUND ANIMAL MATCH
Match the animal to the correct space on the puzzle and receive animal sound reward. I found this at Kmart Australia for $10.
A friend was telling me one of the best buys she made for her son is the pictured wireless headphones. Sometimes when someone has a hearing impairment it can be challenging listening to things at the volume they like, or require. These headphones keep the whole family happy and no cables are necessary.
Novelty Bluetooth speakers are everywhere. In Kmart I found water dancing speakers and radio juke box speakers. It’s hard to find the same online but here’s an example for our overseas friends – Disney Frozen Bluetooth Dancing Water Speaker
At Myer’s Giftorium there’s emoji Bluetooth speakers.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Being outdoors as a family is wonderful but it is often difficult to find ways to include a someone with special needs. Throughout this year I have found some equipment to assist in making outdoor play accessible and fun.
Nest swings are becoming popular in many playgrounds and I was excited to find this at a local hardware store. Bunnings has this swing for just under $100. I have found similar swings online here – Trailblaze Tree Swing + Hanging Strap Kit | XL 40″ Round Outdoor Swing for Kids Extra Thick Rope | Super Strong Nest Swing Holds 600 lbs | Swing Kit Includes Two Tree Swing Strap + Carabiners
POP UP ROCKET
We’ve had several of these pop up rockets. You stamp on a launcher pad and the rocket is released into the air.
Australian Geographic Stores, Big W, Target and Kmart usually stock these fun rockets which retail for around $19. Our overseas friends can find similar rockets online here – Jump Rocket Launcher with 3 Foam Rockets by Hey! Play!
BJ had one of these Waterplay sets when he was younger. It was great set up on an outdoor table and always encouraged interaction when kids visited our place. I found this one at Toys and Tales educational toy store for $119. I found a more elaborate version online for our overseas friends here – Aquaplay Children’s Mountain Lake Playset
When BJ was younger he loved sitting out in the yard on the swing seat with someone looking at books. Once his legs reached the ground he could swing it independently which pleased him. Kmart usually stock these for around $90.
ADAPTIVE SWING AND WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE CUBBY HOUSE
It’s great to find mainstream equipment if it suits your needs but if not, there’s a range of special needs play equipment which is suitable for people with special needs. The equipment is more supportive and will take a heavier weight range. It isn’t cheap, but I see these items as perfect for family to combine together to give as a gift or possibly as a Starlight wish item.
The “All Wheels” wheelchair cubby house appealed to me because it has level entry, wide doorway and is spacious inside. Our kids loved our cubby house but it certainly wasn’t wheelchair accessible.
For more information and costs please contact Special Needs Play Equipment.
PICNIC OR CAMPING CHAIR
BJ loves getting out of his wheelchair at picnics and sitting in a camp chair. He’s had various ones over the years. When he as younger it was a Toy Story one and as he got older, plain camp chairs. There’s a range of camp chairs at Kmart, Big W and camping stores. Our overseas friends can find a chair similar to the one above here – Exxel Outdoors Disney Frozen Camp Chair, Purple
BJ can’t manage a trigger water gun but he can manage the pump action ones. He started off just getting a few squirts out of the water gun and after much practice in the bath his accuracy at hitting me turned it into an outdoor activity.
The Nerf Super Soakers can be found in Kmart, Target, Big W and Myer for around $15.
I’ve bought the Zoom Ball Hydro for BJ for Christmas. I think he’ll be able to work the pull apart handles and will get a real buzz out of the water balloon busting. I can’t vouch for how easy or difficult it is as yet but thought I’d pop it in as it took my fancy. I saw it for $20 at Kmart Australia. Our overseas friends can check it out online here – Goliath Hydro Zoom Ball (2 Player)
Hubby and BJ used to love riding together around our local area but especially when we went on holidays. The two of them would take off for their guy time and I’d have a cuppa and enjoy the short break.
A tag-along bike is a great way of riding together if a child can’t peddle themselves. I love this Weehoo seat because it’s mainstream, has a harness and armrests. You can read more about Weehoo here.
A MOTORSED OR ADAPTED VEHICLE
BJ was given a motorised car and it was a bit hit and miss whether he could press the accelerator for long enough to go far. It was more like a car kangarooing down the road but he was content to have a pal to drive him around. When we would meet friends at a park it was wonderful to see him not being left behind. Instead his toy was so cool everyone clambered to join him. I think it showed kids that he was just like them because he enjoyed the same things. These cars are now so much cheaper and can be bought in Big W. Our overseas friends can see a similar jeep here – Power Wheels Jeep Wrangler, Red.
I spied these take-along nightlights in David Jones. With a large push button they are easy to turn on and use. Our overseas friends can find them online here – Skip Hop Zoo Take-Along Nightlight, Marshall Monkey
BJ was given a plasma ball as a gift and he loved it. Touching the surface attracts streaks of light. If you’re encouraging pointer isolation this is a great motivator. I found these at Kmart for $20. Our overseas friends can find them online here – Unido Plasma Ball 6″ Inch Interactive Touch Activated – Science Educational Gift
A rainbow projector light makes a good bedside lamp. I found this at Australian Geographic store or you can buy it online here. Our overseas can see something similar here – NOPTEG Rainbow Projector Room Night Light LED Color Lamp Magic Romantic Lights for Kids,add USB Cable as Gift (Rainbow)
I’ve been told these glass nightlights are all the range this year. Cotton On Kids has Darth Vader at $19.95.Our overseas readers can find similar online here – NOPTEG Rainbow Projector Room Night Light LED Color Lamp Magic Romantic Lights for Kids,add USB Cable as Gift (Rainbow)
Kmart has a $10 version of the colour changing lights for $10 including a unicorn and peace hand.
Many people think clothing is boring as a gift but BJ doesn’t mind clothing if it’s tailored to his taste. He loves graphic tees, loves his character t-shirts and sleepwear. His Where’s Wally t-shirt he received last year as a gift has been a great talking point. This year Myer has extended their range to have 3 styles of Where’s Wally shirts. BJ loves choosing his clothes each day and is always drawn to the graphic t-shirts. Take your child or teen to the store and see what they are drawn to. If they are non-verbal this may help give their wardrobe a piece of their personality. Graphic t-shirts can be found in Kmart, Target, departments stores and Jay-Jays have a good range. Old Navy in the US usually has a good range of Graphic Tees.
There’s plenty of girls, boys, men’s and women’s character pj’s. BJ has some great Peter Alexander PJ’s and some we’ve bought in the US at Disneyland and Universal Studios.
SIP N SOUND STRAW
This may seem like a novelty item and there’s no doubt they are aimed at fun but I see potential for other goals. The straws come with a range of toys attached including farm animals and a range of vehicles. When a person sips on the straw the toy makes a sound. When they stop the sound stops. This makes it a great therapy tool for kids learning to suck on a straw. I also think it could be good post surgery when kids are reluctant to drink but it’s crucial they do so. I know a few little people who have recently had tonsil surgery and keeping up fluids, despite throat pain was important.
AJ recently asked for a curling wand for her birthday and we’re loving the one pictured below.
It’s quick to use and the curls last a long while. I bought this from Target Australia but Big W, Myer and David Jones all seem to stock them. These range around the $80-$120 mark. Our overseas friends can find something similar here – VIDAL SASSOON Magic Shine Auto curling iron [maximum temperature:230 degrees / Easy &Takes only 8 seconds to make beautiful curls] VSA-1100 / RJ.
If you have a trip coming up it’s a great opportunity to give travel related gifts. Even if you are buying for someone who attends a respite centre it can be good to buy some items they can take with them.
A themed rolling suitcase is a bit of fun and can be chosen to appeal to the person’s taste. AJ has a Country Road duffle bag she likes to take to sleepovers. Country Road duffle bags are around the $60 mark and the bags above are around $35 and can be found at Target, Big W and Kmart.
We travel with a portable DVD player to ensure BJ can always have his favourite movies. We use it for long car trips in hire cars, he uses it at respite and sometimes on a flight. Portable DVD players are becoming harder to get but electronic stores still stock them and in the lead up to Christmas they are often a sale item at Target, Kmart and Big W. We found good Panasonic ones on Amazon when we were in the US and the battery life is a lot longer than other brands but I can’t find them in Australia.
One of the best travel accessories we have had is BJ’s wheelguards.
They’ve been a great conversation starter with people we meet as we travel. Kids comment and think it is ‘cool.’ Wheel guards would make a great gift. They come in a variety of designs including abstract graphics for older kids and characters like Spiderman and The Muppets. BJ’s bat wheels came from Mogo Wheelchairs and I spied the cool Spiderman wheel guard while at Dejay Medical. These are both Australian companies but wheel guards are not unique to Australia. If you google Wheelchair wheel guards you will find plenty of suppliers around the world.
Sometimes we’ll get BJ a trike ride or another experience as a gift at our travel destination. We’ve done this at Uluru and locally around Sydney. Movie passes, annual museum entry tickets, aquarium, zoo passes and others all make a good gift.
BJ loves being out and about so any passes would always be well used. Tickets to shows and concerts can also make a fabulous gift.
BIG TICKET ITEMS
This Springfree trampoline was a huge hit with the whole family and proved a great way to encourage social inclusion when friends and family came to visit. BJ and AJ would often take out a bunch of pillows and have an outdoor picnic in the trampoline. It was a high step up for BJ to get into the trampoline but he managed okay with our help.
The greatest gift BJ has received has been the beach wheelchair. This has been a gift to the whole family giving us freedom to explore and holiday wherever we like. It has made getting to the beach and into the water fun again. You can read more about Beach Wheelchairs here.
Bath soaps, gels, bubble bath or novelty bath bombs.
Bath treats can be good for all age brackets and come in a large range of styles.
BJ loves getting a new calendar each year. He loves Simpsons but there’s obviously a calendar to suit just about every interest or hobby.
A sound book is great for people needing to learn to isolate their pointer and reading is always an enjoyable activity to do together.
Although this is meant to be used as a punching bag, I can see that a few of them lined up could make a great obstacle course for someone new to learning to drive a power wheelchair. BJ learnt his power chair skills thanks to a determined occupational therapist at his school who put photos of teaching staff on boxes which BJ would knock down with his chair. It appealed to his wicked sense of humour and he’s now amazing in his power chair.
Fidget cubes and fidget spinners have become mainstream now and I found these fidget cubes in Big W. These are a good calming tool but also good for improving fine motor skills.
A FEW GENERAL IDEAS
- Tickets to a concert or stage show.
- A framed photo or video message. Family and friends sent BJ messages for his birthday which AJ joined into one movie for him and he loved it.
- Lava lamp.
- New cap for a team or character they like.
- Bubbles. Even as an adult I love bubbles. Bubble machines are fun for parties and good for a person who cannot use a wand to create them.
- DVDs. Think about some you liked when you were younger. AJ and I had a wonderful time watching Anne of Green Gables, BJ loves the Honey I Shrunk the Kids trilogy, the Home Alone series.
- A money box. It is really good for BJ to put his coins in a money box.
- A good wallet. Even a person isn’t managing their own money they may like a nice wallet to take to a day program or respite.
- A caricature picture of your child. BJ and AJ both had these done and framed while travelling. Many cities have street artists that will do these even from a photo.
- Witches hats to make an obstacle driving course for a child learning to drive a power chair. (Kmart usually stock these small cones or witches hats)
I hope you’ve found something in amongst this long list of ideas for the person you need to buy for this year. Whether it’s a Christmas gift, birthday gift or a “just because” present, it’s a great thrill finding that present that makes a hit with someone. I think that’s doubly true for someone who has special needs as it’s often hard to find a suitable present.
If you’ve got a good tip regarding a present, please leave it in comments below or over on our Facebook page.
This is not a sponsored post. The gifts included have been included due to our personal experience or I feel they may be good for a person with special needs. There are some affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item using these links I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you. This helps with the costs associated with running this website
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June Carter says
Wow – what a fabulous list – must have taken a lot of time sourcing out
Well done Julie
Thanks June, it did take quite a while to put together this year.
I hope you enjoyed the rest of your stay in Australia and made it home safely.
Jackie Mahoney says
Great list. I enjoyed being able to see all the toys and games without having to hunt through different stores. Having overseas sites is an added bonus. WELL DONE SUPERGIRL!!
Thanks Jackie. Glad you liked the list.
Fabulous list – thanks so much for posting!
Just wondering where you found the animal sound straws.
Hi Vanessa, I found them in Big W in Australia. I’m not sure if they’re available online too. Good luck.
Hi! Great list. So thoughtful of you to put this together. I am sure it will help a lot of families this time of year.
Also wanted to add a great idea for clothing. Tommy Hilfiget has adaptive clothing on the online shopping site.
Fantastic. Thanks for the extra idea. Julie
Fantastic list. I’ve referenced it often for my daughter and brother for Christmas and birthdays.
Thanks so much. It’s lovely to know the list is so useful.
What a wonderful list. I have a niece who is almost 2 with CP. I now have multiple ideas for Christmas.
Nancy Johnsen says
Thank you for a fabulous list! I just ordered several of these items for my 20 year old son. It is always so hard to find things for him and your list gave me some great ideas!
Emily Paquin says
Would love to know more about the homemade crayon holder, or if you know of a place I could buy one
They can’t be commercially bought, an OT made ours for my son. I have put a pattern of how to make it though in the post. Perhaps you have someone handy who could help?